In a testament of growing bilateral ties, Australia and China pledged on Thursday to safeguard globalization and free trade and do away with barriers which might be established as protectionist policies.

“We believe that to resolve trade imbalance we need to continue to expand trade, that is the solution. We cannot close our doors, that is not the solution,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said during his visit to the Australian capital Canberra.

“Free trade can only thrive in a peaceful and stable environment, both our countries know this well,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.

While this is the first visit by a Chinese Premier to Australia in more than a decade, it comes on the heels of strengthened trade ties between the two countries.

The two leaders are likely to sign a multitude of trade and exchange agreements and move forward in the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

In late January, Australia floated the possibility of inviting China to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) initiative after the US pulled out.

The TPP was initially an initiative designed by Washington to counter China’s growing economic influence in the region.

Countries which had signed on to the TPP less than a year ago, such as Australia, Brunei, Vietnam, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Chile and Japan are now wondering what kind of trade relationship will exist with the US.

Last year, Chinese company Landbridge Group, which purchased the 99-year leasing right for the Port of Darwin for $506 million, announced a $25 million expansion of its operations, just months after taking control of the port in Australia’s Northern Territory.

China has also been purchasing large grain farming properties in the wheat belt north of Perth in Western Australia, among other rural areas.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies